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The Blue Changes


ISSUE:  Fall 2013

Channel, brook, stream—call it a river
that flows past the hospital
in different shades and seasons of blue,
glittering in noonday sun.
Then a sudden change.
Yesterday he was alive. Today he’s dead.

He seems to be more alive now that he’s dead:
a continuous transition, one flowing river
twisting and turning, meandering through change.
Some days we gazed out at it from the hospital
solarium, basking sleepily in the sun.
Right up until the end I took that blue

gaze for granted. One day: no more blue,
not where that came from. Once a person is dead,
they no longer see the light of the sun.
He’s standing on the far bank of the river.
Tiny as a dollhouse now, the hospital
is no longer home. I turn to face the change.

There is no way to anticipate the change
flooding from anger red to twilight blue.
One August afternoon in the hospital
from the room across the hall they wheeled a dead
person. That day the photogenic river
was a regatta: sailboats, sparkling sun.

Mysterious adjustments out of the sight of the sun:
The current flowing toward the harbor changes
its mind. A black ship’s anchored in the river.
Night sky blue or light sky blue:
Which is the proper way to drape the dead?
The city has become one hospital,

and not the healing kind of hospital,
but a place of transformation. Father, son,
mother—whole families emerge, not dead
exactly, but bewildered by the change.
All winter you can hear the sharp wind blow.
Then rain and snowmelt thaw the frozen river.

The hospital has vanished. He is dead.
I look up: blue sky. Sun.
Turn backward in your courses, sacred rivers.

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